Wouldn’t it be amazing if you understood your patients so well that creating content for them was like sitting down and having a discussion? Wouldn’t it be even better if you knew where to find them and how to get their attention?

That’s the magic of personas—composite sketches that represent the real people who inhabit your key target audiences. Personas allow you to walk in your patients’ shoes by giving you insight into their families and jobs, their concerns, time constraints, desires, beliefs and life experiences—and their cultural backgrounds, emotional drivers, motivations, health challenges, and health goals.

The purpose of creating health care marketing personas is to be able to create strategies, content, and designs that are meaningful and actionable to your target audience.

At Hailey Sault, we use a lot of research (science) and a little art (storytelling) to create our personas.

The science behind our personas

“Your personas are only as good as the research behind them.”

— Usability.gov

Data is what makes a solid foundation for any persona. Starting with science, not opinions and assumptions, is the only way to create truly actionable personas. So we always start by digging deep and researching the data behind each persona.

Background and demographics:

  • Where they live
  • The work they do
  • Marital status
  • If they have dependents
  • Their ethnicity

Personal preferences:

  • Their interests
  • Their habits
  • The entertainment/blogs they consume
  • Are they a cat person or a dog person?

Challenges:

  • Common fears
  • Health challenges
  • Barriers to taking action

Goals:

  • What are their hopes, values, and motivations? Their health goals?
  • What does a healthy lifestyle look like to them?

How they intersect with health care:

  • Do they prefer holistic methods of treatment?
  • Is their experience rooted more in traditional medicine?  

How they consume information:

  • What’s the best way to reach them (e.g., social media, direct mail, patient portal, etc.)?

Our tools are varied:

  • Global Web Index—allows us to uncover and analyze digital consumer behavior for our target personas.
  • https://datausa.io—is a great resource to analyze geographical specifics and key demographics such as: household income, average education level, likelihood to have commercial insurance, etc.
  • Google Site Analytics—gives us a look at your existing site visitors and identifies any trends from a geographic or demographic standpoint, as well as the type of content our personas are consuming/where they’re spending the majority of time on your site, where your visitors come from, what keywords they used to find you, how long they spent once they arrived. In other words we are able to discover trends in how patients consume your content.
  • Facebook and Twitter Analytics—allow us to look at your existing digital follower base for trends in demographics, preferred content topics, engagement rates, etc.  
  • Existing Testimonials and Site Review—if there’s a strong base of reviews and testimonials for your brand, we can scour those to uncover themes among conditions, gender, age, location, etc. to see what your existing patients are saying.
  • Brandwatch—this general listening tool allows us to pull keyword themes to see what people are saying about your industry, brand, other common areas.

The art of persona creation

Once all the data is collected, we get to work building personas that are genuine and have a fact based, believable identity and story.

We get heard when we get human.

We look at each of our personas as a character, writing their back story in the first person, using their authentic tone of voice and vocabulary. We want our persona’s ideas, experiences, feelings and daily life to shine through so that we as marketers can use what we know to answer questions, make our audience think, laugh and live healthier lives.

For example, meet Jennifer. She is just one persona we may use for an orthopedics campaign. She’s 45, a teacher, married and has two kids. She is experiencing back pain. Here is a small portion of her story:

“I stand all day and by the time I get home my back is killing me. I’ve tried new shoes and those smelly pain creams, but they didn’t work. Can you believe it, I even ordered one of those back brace things from Amazon. I seem too young to have back pain like this. I know I need to call the doctor. I just keep hoping I can fix it myself.”

Jennifer acts as the single truth about her particular target audience for each person in our team who touches this orthopedic campaign. From strategist through media planning and execution—who she is, what she needs from us and how we can reach her is paramount. She is so much better to think about and communicate with than the usual broad target audience that can include women age 40–60 who are experiencing musculoskeletal pain.

Final thought

The better you understand your target audience, the better your results.

Among the many outcomes you can expect if you put personas to work for you is the opportunity to establish marketing strategies that are more on the mark, to form better connections and to communicate your value to your target audience. If you need help creating these valuable representations of the real people in your audiences, we’re ready to put the art and science of personas to work for you.